Thursday, December 29, 2005

the rain in spain...

İstanbul, Turkey

It's been raining all day and I left my umbrella at what I currently call home. So I got very wet which I'm sure didn't help my fight not to get this cold. But me and my flintstones vitamins will prevail! And tomorrow I shall bring my umbrella when I go out.

I had two interviews today at Boğaziçi university. One was with an old friend of my mom's and one was with the professor of one of my advisors. Yay for connections. I'm currently trying to get an interview (or maybe more than one!) with people in the municipal government. Keep your fingers crossed! I really need to actually talk to someone in the government here.

Yesterday I talked to a professor at Marmara Unıversity. They have lots of different campuses in İstanbul, and I thought I had found a bus that went to the right one, but it turns out it was the wrong one. Fortunatly I was going there from someplace else and so asked directions and some very nice women put me on the correct mini bus and I got to the correct campus. And the interview was really good.

Nothing really exciting going on though. I spend lots of time on busses going to interviews, waiting for interviews, and sleeping and that's about it. But I did find the english language books in the Boğaziçi bookstore today which was very exciting. And I would recommend Good Omens for anyone who hasn't read it. Stay dry

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I didn't get lost!!

İstanbul, Turkey

I've returned to İstanbul, and it makes me really happy. I took the bus from Ankara on Monday. Since this wasn't the night bus, and I was awake I actually got to see what it looks like from here to Ankara. There was snow on the ground most of the way, and most of it is mountainous, or at least hilly. As the trees have no leaves the mountains/hills look like they had thinnıng hair that was standing straight up so you could see their very white scalps. Anyways, it was a pretty trip. And I've discovered that if they show action movies it isn't really necessary to understand Turkish.

On arriving at the bus station I had to take a taksi to Aylin's house. I had forgotten what it's like to ride in a turkish taksi. Almost as good as a roller coaster (although I've only ever been on one roller coaster). But they are crazy crazy drivers.

Alikan (Aylin's son) is now two and a half, and while still the cutest kid ever he has entered the terrible twos, which seems to be a little bit trying for his parents. The cat is still an attack cat, and seems to like feet, which reminds me of dillon. The bed I slept in before is gone and now they have a couch that pulls out into a bed. It's very comfy.

I went to the kapılıçarsı (grand bazaar) today to visit Hasan. I managed to find a bus stop, get on a bus that took me to Kadıköy so I could take the ferry to Eminönü as planned. No getting lost or getting on the wrong bus! I have also continued my tradition of buying the best cookies ever to get bus change. It was so exciting to be back on the ferry. I can't really think of any good words. Hasan is doing well, and sitting in his shop (he sells carpets) I felt like I'd never really left. I also visited Murat (he sells brass and copper stuff) and had a slightly one sided discussion about why americans move out of their family's houses at 18 or 22 and how that leads to people feeling more isolated.

And here's the real shock. I took the ferry back (yay!) and after getting on the wrong bus and then being sent to another where I realized I was being dyslexic I got what turned out to be the right bus. I got off at the right stop and found Aylin's building. I don't think I've ever gone some place for the first time in İstanbul and not gotten lost. Although now that I've said that I'm sure as soon as I walk out the door tomorrow I will be lost.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

conferences and tea

Ankara, Turkey

I woke up this morning thinking that I had no plans, but as is often the case in Turkey that was not true for long. Standing in the hallway trying to wake up the mother (her name is Nesin) and older son walked past and told me that Belgin had been trying to calling all morning. Turns out she wanted me to go to a conference with her on Sufism and Women. So I put on some clothes and went. The conference was in this huge conference salon as they called it. There were four people speaking including Cemalnur, Dr. Gursoy, and an american guy. It started on standard turkish time (late) with the singing of the national march. I have to say that in terms of people singing along to there national anthem/marches Turkey defiantly beats America. It's in a range that most people can actually sing in with no bloody high notes. I felt a little bit awkward standing there though.

I'm sure that the conference was very interesting, but I only understood a fourth of it. When the american guy started talking it took me a minute to realize that he was actually speaking english. Aylin was translating for him which was very exciting. He went on about the women that had been close to the prophet, and took too long to make his point. He ended up making it as they were telling him he was out of time. When cemalnur spoke I could get the feeling of what she was saying, but none of the words. I think it helps that she talks with her hands.

Afterwards there was tea, because that's what's done and I got to see most of my sufi family. It was really nice to see them all again. And it was great to see the look on their faces because I hadn't told them that I was going to be there. Yay for my sufi family. I'm excited about going back to Istanbul and seeing all of them. In case you are wondering, I was adopted into a sufi group when I was in Istanbul in May and the teacher of the group is cemalnur.

They ordered pizza tonight for dinner. I think pizza here might be more exciting. They put corn on their pizza! And the um italian kind had secuk (turkish peperoni if you will) on it. And the mom (her name is made visne (sour cherry juice)! I guess I talk about food a lot, but I've decided that when I get back I'm going to figure out how to make some of the turkish food I really like.

It's Christmas eve, and although I'm going to have the whitest Christmas I've had in a long time it doesn't seem at all like Christmas eve. But I hope you all have been good this year and maybe santa will visit you. Because I still believe in santa; as my mother says santa is the people that love you. Happy christmas eve!

Friday, December 23, 2005

interviews oh interviews

Ankara, Turkey

I had three interviews today and they all went really well. Yay! I kind of don't feel like I should be talking about what people said in my blog though, so if you want to find out about them you can read my thesis someday insallah.

I'm now staying with a family that is friends with Canguzel's family. However, I am very bad with names, and turkish names are once again proving to be worse than american ones and so I know the daughter is named Ozge but I can't remember the names of the rest of the family. But I have to say that the four year old is really cute and I feel bad because I can't talk to him.

Anyways, today Ozge was very nice and came with me to all the interviews. And I got to meet her friends at this chinese resturaunt that also had sushi. She goes to an international school, as does her brother (the 16 year old one, not the 4 year old) so they both speak fluent english which is really nice. Some day I really will learn turkish!

While I was at METU (middle east technical university) I got to see Claire and Oktay which was very exciting. Claire (who is brittish but now speaks fluent turkish) is in the process of starting up a dissabilities probgram at METU which seems to be a challenge, but also very rewarding. Apparently it's the first program like this at a Turkish university, but now there is another one that is starting up as well.

At the state planning office once again I talked to a woman I had already talked to and then the man I was going to interview was very late. Ozge left and eventully he showed up at about 5:30. Apparently there was some problem with the licensing of his car and something and he had to wait 3 hours. He gave me a ride home after I interviewed him which was really nice of him. It was kind of funny though. The neighborhood I'm staying in is confusing, and so he stopped somewhere and asked for directions, which turned out to be bad. So he went back to the same place to try again. We did find it eventually, but the directions he got the second time were exactly the same as the first time, and still wrong.

I was very late getting back and so missed dinner, but they saved some for me. And it was manti!!! Manti is my favorite turkish food, or perhaps food in general by the way. If you haven't it's turkish dumplings in a yougurt sort of sauce and well, it's really good. And it was homemade! Yay!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

what a long strange trip it's been

Ankara, Turkey

The walkabout is over, so you'll just have to think of the title as My research trip: A most unplanned adventure. I don't seem to be doing well at staying in the country.

I don't know where to start. But I've just discovered how to put the keyboard on the english setting instead of the turkish setting, which seems to be a start. It's been a long crazy trip and I've already had my first interview, although have only had 6 hours of sleep in a bed since I left.

The flight to philidelphia was all nice and normal, but then my flight to munich was delayed by 2 hours. First the plane got there late, then the caterers (whose food wasn't good anyways) took too long and then they had to fix the navigation system, test it extensivly and do some paperwork. In short, by the time we had landed in Munich my plane for Istanbul had already departed. So the lovely people of Lufthansa rerouted me through Berlin and then I got to take a turkish airlines flight to Istanbul. I have to say that turkish airlines beates US airways on food, hands down. But then, is that really a surprise?

I got met at the airport (at 8:30 pm turkish time) and taken to the ulusoy bus station. The bus left at 11, and there was a bit of confusion as I tried to explain that Canguzel's mom, Inci, had my ticket, but would be getting on the bus in about half an hour. The guy was nice and decided that I could stay on the bus. Inci did get on the bus later and explained everything. It was really nice to see her. There was some falling asleep and then some snow. We stopped half way there (2:30 am) at a rest stop and had some yogurt soup. And then I remembered why I love turkey so much. The bus arrived at 5:30 and we got to Inci's appartment/house at 6 where I got my sleep in an actual bed.

Some sleep, food and a shower can do wonders for a person. And then I had my first interviews. I don't think I'm asking the right questions. And I was trying too hard to stay awake to think of some better ones. But they were really nice and told me I could come back Friday if I have any questions, and also found me someone else to intervew Friday. So it should come out okay.

I can't think of anything profound. The icicles at the rest stop last night were 1 meter long and it's been below 0 (in celcius) since I got here. It's kind of nice to see snow. I'm still a little confused on what time it is, and how I lost a day, but oh well. Another interview tomorrow, hopefully it will yield more information.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

more photos

Old town tallinn

Bryggen - cool wooden houses from the middle ages in Bergen

Somehow the bus got us from down there to up here

it's a fjord!!

sunset over the baltic sea

emily on the paddle boat in prague

old town warsaw

frank zappa memorial in vilnius

highest point on the oslo bergen line

The european bank of the bosforus - click on this one!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

photos from istanbul

the black sea...looks pretty blue to me

sultanahmet cami (the blue mosque)

galata tower and a ferry

looking back over the bosforus

the brunch my sufi family held

Marma and Patlican, my turkish cats. Shhh, don't tell Dillon

Aylin and Alikan, the cutest kid ever

the end

Chapel Hill, USA

My adventure has come to an end. I really don't believe it. When I left it seemed like I was going forever, and how can forever be over. But somehow it is. And I will start school again in a few weeks. So back to the real world or at least the student world I must go. And to all of you I met on my travels, if you're ever in the south east of the US you should visit me!

The saga of the journey home. I spent my last day in Berlin at a concentration camp. Possibly the most depressing experience ever. Words cannot really describe it, it has to be experience. And since all these amazing writers have tried to describe it and haven't been able to do it justice why would I be able to? After the hour and a half return to the main train station we discovered that the u-bahn line to our hostel was shut down so we had to take the substitute bus. Then upon returning to the hostel we realized that our station was the problem one. There were 10 police vans surrounding it and the whole area was blocked off. I still have no idea what happened there. There was no bus back to the train station so I had to take a taxi. Then took the s-bahn to the airport and had a nice uneventful flight to the london luton airport. When we got in I was in a hurry and immigration had taken a long time so I grabbed my bag and took the shuttle to the train station to discover they had cancelled the train. 5 of us took a taxi to kings cross, very squished in there it was. Walked to the LSE dorm so that I could stay with emily's friend there for a few hours. When I got there (it's 1:30 in the morning) I talked to him and then looked in my bag and realized it wasn't mine. Oh crap. The girl whose bag it was - Julie had her planner inside so I called her and she called me and somehow we managed to get in touch. By some freak coincidence she was flying out of heathrow the next day, so I'd be able to get my bag back to her. However, she had taken my bag and realized earlier and taken it back to the airport. My flight was too early in the morning to get back and forth to luton and pick up my bag. So the next morning I flew out of heathrow without it. The flight from toronto home was delayed 2 or so hours and I saw the remnants of the crashed plane on the way out.

My bag is currently residing in Eynsham with Margaret and will come to boston with her in a couple of weeks. And somehow it will get to me. What a mess. I feel so stupid.

On the weirdness of being home. Driving for the first time in 6 months - why are they letting me behind the wheel of this big machine? Mexican food - yay!! My cat - she actually remembered me and doesn't even seem too pissed. Milk from a glass bottle - so much better than milk from a box. Language - everyone here speaks english? I could talk to all of them? Really? But the weirdest thing is going to be after a bit when I'm still here. Then I think it might sink in that it's actually over. Because I don't really believe it yet

Friday, July 29, 2005


Prague, Czech Republic

I bumped into Emily on a street corner last night and we went to a hostel and decided to travel together. Okay, so that's not exactly how it went. She said she was getting in at 9:15 and I assumed for some reason she was getting in the train station. I was supposed to get in just before that so I emailed her and told her I'd meet her there. Then I realized there are 4 train stations. Then I found out she had actually taken a plane and so was not at any of the four train stations but I should meet her at the hostel. So getting directions from the loverly william I got to the right metro stop and as I was wandering around looking for the hostel I bumped into Emily who was also looking for our hostel. And now everything is all good, except it's a bit hot here.

Vilnius needs to do something about their hostel advertising. Getting in on a sunday evening with no place to stay (not so smart I know) the tourist office was closed and there were no signs for hostels in the bus and train stations. There are usually signs! I was about to give up and go on to poland but a nice woman at the news stand had seen a hostel on her way to school and took me there. And now I'm glad that I decided to stay. I went to the museam for genocide victims which I think might be the most disturbing museam I've ever visited. The building used to be the headquarters of the KGB and the Gestapo (but not at the same time) and part of the museam is the preserved prision in the bottom. So you can see the cells and where they tortured prisoners and even farther in basement is the execution chamber. They have lists of victims but what I found most disturbing was the photos of the guys that actually were involved in the KGB and executions. How could someone do that to other people? Oh, and most of them had no profession and only an elementary school education.

I met a nice italian guy who coaches kids in basketball on my way into the museam and later I ran into him again in the cathedral as he was starting this walking tour thing. So I went on the walking tour with him which was good, although his booklet had two copies of the map and was missing eight pages describing the things you were walking past. So it goes. Then I got on a bus and took a 9 hour trip to warsaw, spent 5 groggy hours there trying to see something and not seeing much and then another 9 hours to prague. And wow is it hot here. But the rain has gone and I'm going to have clean laundry soon!

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Nida, Lithuania

The rain has been following me since I got to Tallinn. I think that it's rained, or usually poured at least once a day, sometimes it rains all day. It has been cooler which is nice and happy. Between Estonia and Lithuania there's latvia, so I went there too. Riga, the capital, is a good place. Like Tallinn it has a great old town, but this one feels a lot more real and lived in. They also have freedom mounument that has armed guards protecting it...hmmm. My hostel was painted all orange and was named fun friendly franks or something like that. One of the guys staying there is a computer science grad student at UNC...the world gets smaller all the time. His backpack got stolen somewhere, so now he has a russian man purse. There were also 4 finnish guys that I went out dancing with one night. I don't know about all guys from finland, but these ones could dance. I think european guys might in general dance more than american guys.

Last night I got into Palanga (a little bit north of where I am now) and got a room in this woman's house. She lives with her mother and father who are grandparent age. And they don't know any english, but they're really nice. When I was trying to ask how to say thank you the lady called her friend who spoke english because she thought I was trying to ask something important. They make it really hard to get to Nida (which is on the curonian spit) from Palanga. You have to take a bus to klaipeda, and then walk (or in this case take a taxi because it was pouring and we had no map) to the ferry dock. But that ferry place had moved so we had to go somewhere else. And then you have to walk into town (3km) and get a bus that goes down the island. Fortunatly I met some nice dutch guys making the taxi part easier and the rest more laughable.

So this spit is kind of barrier islandish, except much bigger and spanning two countries. And between the spit and the mainland is freshwater, not brackish water. You can take this hike up in the dunes so that you have a view of the lagoon and the balitic sea at the same time. It's pretty awesome. This should be longer but I need to go catch the bus so I can do that whole thing in reverse now. Oh, my hair is really short now.

Monday, July 18, 2005

and there was much rejoicing

Tallinn, Estonia

The new harry potter has arrived! And although I may have missed the potter parties at home, I found it in a bookstore here and umm finished it last night at about 2 in the morning. I was reading it in this bar/cafe that's kind of in the town hall and on the main square. I think I might have looked kind of funny with my beer and harry potter, but I had a great time. And there were a bunch of drunk britts singing. Why don't americans sing when they get drunk?

Tallinn is great. Or at least the old town is great because I haven't really seen much else. Although Sweden and Norway were beautiful, after having lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 5 days, it's nice to be where the food is cheaper meaning I can eat more exciting things like estonian pancakes...mmmm. I went to a free concert thing yesterday which featured dances of the middle ages complete with people dancing in period costumes. The last dance was so modern for it's time that it was banned by the pope which is pretty funny when you see it 400 years later.

I took a boat here from Sweden but instead of getting a bed in a cabin I decided to get a seat in the seating lounge. It was really funny to see everyone trying to sleep there. They were sprawled across seats and on the floor which kind of made it hard not to step on anyone in the dark. There were some nice german guys on the boat and one of them looked like John Lennon. He didn't know who I was talking about when I told him. His name is ingmar which I remember because it was strange and seemed very viking like or something. We were the only ones on deck at two in the morning when you could still see the sunset.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

fjords anyone?

Stockholm, Sweden

While it may look like I've been in Sweden since I last wrote I actually did go to Norway. For some reason, I guess because they are printed on flat paper I always think that a country is going to be flat until proven otherwise. Norway is definatly not flat. I stayed with a family friend in Oslo and got to see cool things like the Nobel Peace Prize museam and the Munch (he was a famous norwegian artist) museam. I had no idea that the nobel peace prize is awarded by a committe of Norwegians. The rest of the nobel prizes are decided on by Swedes, but Nobel decided since at the time of his death they were in some kind of alliance he shouldn't let Norway feel left out.

The train ride from Oslo to Bergen which is on the west coast was absolutely amazing. It goes through many mountains, litterally through with lots of tunnels as well as through in a not quite so litteral sense. The highest point was at this town called Finse, and there's a glacier up there. I took a detour and went on the Flåm railway which has the steepest grade of any railroad in the world. It manages to be even more spectacular than the normal rail route. And it goes by this huge waterfall. They even stop the train so everyone can pile out and get misted. They have fake ruins and a fake nymph up on the rocks though which is just kind of stupid. But there's more...a boat ride on pieces of two fjords and then a bus ride that went from the valley where the fjord was up the steepest mountain road I think a bus could possibly get up. And according to the package that this came as, that is norway in a nutshell.

Bergen is a super cute town. There's a fish market where if you look longingly at it they might give you free samples of salmon and smoked whale. Yes there is commercial whaling in Norway, but they tell me they only hunt two species and that it's very highly regulated. There's also a row of wooden houses from the middle ages that are very tilty and cool to walk around. The town or maybe city is surrounded by mountains and so I went hiking one day with this Aussie girl named Teresa. We kind of hiked longer than we meant to and we were at it for about seven and a half hours. So when we got around this big long ridge we had been hiking along we took the cable car down. Fortunatly the fog came up right then so I didn't have to see down the 642 meters.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

the library

Gothenburg, Sweden

I think my family is currently in a plane over the Atlantic ocean. Think good flying thoughts for them. The kidnapping of my brother was a lot of fun and he was very good natured about the whole thing. I'm not sure if he's had any vegetables for a week though, unless you count french fries. And according to the USDA they do count as vegetables...scary.

Berlin. Berlin was a good place to go, although if we had been there a few days later we could have gone to the live8 concert which would have been awesome. We stayed at David's cozy little backpacker's hostel which is a great place. Ian found one guy there to play magic with and another guy that he played a million games (okay, maybe not that many) of backgammon with. The guy working there is Greek and he yelled at me (and most of the people there) for not visiting greece. Maybe next time.

There are many amazing memorials in Berlin but one of them made me cry. I don't remember the exact name but it's something to the extent of a memorial to all the vicitims of tyrany and injustice. It's in a building that used to be used by the Prussian military and now it is just an open room with a statue of a mother holding her dead son. And below the statue are buried together the remains of an unknown concentration camp victim and an unknown nazi soldier. And over the statue is a hole in the ceiling so that if it snows outside it snows inside too.

Copenhagen. I love Tivoli!! And look at that name backwards now and see what it says. It's this amusment park built sometime in the 1800s by the king for the citizen of the city. And it has rides, but they are mostly cute and the most amazing gardens and fountains. At dusk when all the little lights go on it's like a fairy land or something. It's better than all those magical worlds I imagined. Words just really aren't describing this well enough. Just go see it. And wow do they have a lot of bikes there. The bike lanes are wider than roads in some other cities I think. And beware of confusing the sidewalk and bike lanes because that would be bad. I only confused them once. At the entrance to the harbor they have windmills!! Yay for windmills!

I'd just like to share that of the countries where I've been to the doctor I think Sweden is winning for cure achieved (and cute doctors). However Italy does have a strong point in it's favor as they have yet to make me pay anything. There were pigeons flying through their hospital though.

I'm not really sure what there is to see in Gothenburg. There is a really big super nice public library with free internet access. Guess where I am. This is my second day here, I've just kind of been hiding. Ocassionally I feel it's necessary to take a few days to hide. But don't worry I'll be back out again soon and I'm going to Norway to take a look at Slartybartfast's creations...the fjords!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

sliding down waterfalls

Vienna, Austria

So since I've written we were in Slovenia. The population of the entire country is only 2 million people, and the entire country is full of the julian alps. It is a very cute country though. So a couple of days ago we went white water rafting which was fun but not as exciting as it could have been because the water was low. So my crazy brother heard about canyoning and decided that he wanted to go and that I had to go with him.

Canyoning invloves hiking which is actually more like climbing up to the start on very steep river banks, sometimes pulling yourself up by ropes or holding on to cables so as not to fall. The outfit for canyoning is a full wet suit, including shoes and gloves, a helmet, and a diaper type thing to make it easier to slide without tearing the wet suit. At the start you go in the water and walk, slide and jump down to where you left your vehicle. The first slide involved sitting down and going butt first down a waterfall. In case I'm not describing very well this means that you can't see where you are going. Then there was the walk up onto the bank and jump into a pool...jumps of several meters or more. The crazyiest thing was the last waterfall - 10m tall. That's over 30 feet, or about a 3 story building. And I went down it. If you don't know I'm afraid of heights. I have no idea how I did it. No idea what made me do it. I can't even believe I really did it. There was time on the way down for a very long and loud "oh shit" which I finished with a few seconds to spare before I hit the water. Wow

Now we're in Viena. Last night we went to this big festival down by the Danube. As Ian said, "I can't believe I came all this way just to go to the state fair." I have to say that it was cooler than the state fair though. And of course it was in german and there were copious amounts of beer being drunk. And I didn't have any of the beer, but I have to say that it's probobly better than beer they would have at the north carolina state fair. And at night they had the most amazing fireworks. Yay fireworks.

So I'm actually supposed to be deciding if I'm going to work at the Edinburgh fringe theater festival but I'm writing to procrastinate. Some things never change. What to do, what to do?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I love looking out the window

Dubrovnik, Croatia

So poor william is sick and the rest of my family decided to stay with him in the adorable little island town of trogir. Which I want to say as trogdor. So this morning I got up before 6 (groan) and went to the bus station to catch a bus to debrovnik. It was supposed to be about four and a half hours but ended up being six. Which means that litterally half of my day today will be spent in transit. But that transit has been glorious so far when I could manage to stay awake. The coast of croatia is absolutely amazing!!! I don't think words could possibly do it justice. Mountains going straight down into clear blue water with few houses at all. And I even got to go through Bosnia and Hertzigovina (forgive my spelling if it's bad) for about half an hour.

Dubrovnik is possibly the most amazing city ever. It's completely walled and then it's surrounded by this amazing water. There are hordes of tourists on the main streets, but if you just turn down a little street it's like a different place. I love taking pictures of the streets and then the laundry hanging out to dry. Which means that later on you can look at a whole lot of pictures like that.

There are no cars in the old city which is great! That's probobly because the streets are too narrow and because there are stairs, so it's not necessarily because they don't want them, but it still makes me happy. I really must go find food now before I fall apart. Oh, they have tiramisu ice cream here!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

driving down the road

Zagreb, Croatia

So we've rented a silver fiat "economy" station wagon for our travels. I'm not sure what would happen to me if I went a summer without a driving trip in a station wagon with my family. This one isn't red, but it's still a station wagon. It has a sun roof but we have yet to figure out how to make it open, so I don't suppose that really counts.

Saturday in Zagreb is market day and they have a huge market in one of the main squares with lots of fruits and vegetables, flowers, cheese, nuts, baskets, clothing, and probobly more things that we didn't see. I haven't seen so many people out in a city just walking around since maybe Istanbul. It seems much more alive than most of the places I've been to recently. It makes me happy. They also have lots of cafes which makes William happy. Coffee places do not serve food here. For breakfast they have coffee in the coffee bar and then go across the street to the bakery to get a pastry. Or you get the pastry first and bring it to eat with your coffee. But they have a very high per capita bakery number I think.

They have a church here called St. Catherine's Church. They spell it differently though, but it was still exciting being a Katherine and all. It's a very baroque church with pink walls with fancy white raised plaster designs over the pink and lots of paintings and decoration everywhere. There is also no crucifix in the church.

Speaking of decoration the Hungarians have taken ceiling decoration to a new level. Instead of just decorating the inside they decorate the outside too! There are lots of buildings in Budapest with designs in the tile and some of them are very impressive. They also have lots of animals or faces on the sides of their buildings.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

my family!!

Budapest, Hungary

So my family got here yesterday!! And it was really exciting!! And my brother is even taller than ever. They let him grow in my absence...tsk. We're staying on this boat that's also a hotel so they cleverly call it a botel. I'm so happy to see my family! Yayness

I was having internet issues (among many issues) in Romania and couldn't write so now you can pretend I'm still there. I almost missed my train from Sofia to Bucherest. I made it by about a minute and didn't manage to bring any water. I met this welsh cartographer living in sweden on the train. He's traveled all sorts of crazy people, and apparently being a cartographer he has to do a lot of travel now. Maybe I should become a cartographer. Anyways, it's good that I met him because after we got off the train and I tried my ATM card it rejected it. As did the only other ATM in the train station. And both of the change places rejected my turkish lira. So he kindly offered to lend me money, got me some breakfast and I followed him to the hostel he was staying in. It was a pretty nice place run by a canadian family that was partly romanian. The next day I tried about 5 different banks and no one would take my card. And the bank said I had money in my account. So I started freaking out. I went on a field trip with the cartographer and after trying the one bank that takes cards from canadian credit unions, asking in a fancy hotel for a cash advance, and pondering going to a casino, finally found a tiny change place that would give me a cash advance. But I had no money for about two days

Bucherest is one of the weirdest cities I've ever been in. You see Romania had this crazy dictator who's name I can't spell but he destroyed most of the capital and built huge concrete buildings. And then when they kicked him out lots of the buildings were only half done but they never got finished. And then there's the second biggest building in the world. The biggest is the pentagon by the way. At least this one has elevators. It was started the year I was born, but with the materials used (lots of marble) and the size you'd think it was one of those hundred year old palaces. It's not quite finished though. Then there are the few old buildings and arcades the crazy dictator drove past too fast to see or forgot about or something that are still there. And then there are the other buildings that also seem completely out of place. And then everything is in the process of falling apart. So it tried to be planned but it's mostly chaos and it's very strange. But kind of cool in a weird way.

I also went to sighisoara (after I could figure out how to pronounce it to get a ticket there). It's a cute little village and completely different then bucherest. And it's in transylvania. And the birth place of the guy that inspired dracula - vlad tebes - the impaler of turks. They made the house he was born in a bar/resturant which somehow seems wrong to me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

leaving on a um jet bus

Sofia, Bulgaria

I finally did it, I managed to drag myself away from Istanbul. I just keep telling myself that I'll be back and all of those good byes weren't the forever kind. As mom pointed out though I was lucky that I made friends that I was sad to say good bye to. Well...the adventure must go on.

We spent two hours last night - from about 11 to 1 in the morning crossing the boarder. Two passport checks, a bus check and a bagage check that we weren't included in later we managed to cross. I think we were in no mans land at midnight. They were very confused about how I had gotten into Turkey and had to look through my passport numerous times.

I met two french people - Marie and Matthieu on the bus. They are doing an internship in sofia and living in the dorms and at some point during the long border crossing while we were talking they offered to let me stay with them since they had an extra bed. So when we got in at 5 in the morning after almost no sleep I didn't have to think, I went with them and crashed. But then when we went out to get lunch the door lady noticed that I was there. So I have to pay to stay with them now. And the woman who is in charge of such things is taking me and Marie to the police station tomorrow so that I can register and she can reregister. It's something that they make all foriegners do but if you stay in a hostel they do it for you automatically.

So bulgarian is a very weird languague. I feel like if most languages (like turkish) are codes then bulgarian is a double code. I keep thinking that if I could just read the letters than I would understand what they are saying. But then I realize that I still wouldn't understand. Somehow arabic didn't bother me that much. Maybe it's because the alphabet here looks similar enough to the latin alphabet that I feel like I should be able to read it. They use the cyrilic alphabet here by the way. Getting food this morning was a close your eyes, point at something and hope for the best kind of thing. I ended up with some good food though. Although nothing as good as turkish food. Sigh

Friday, May 27, 2005


İstanbul, Turkey

It's been a big week for football. First there was the league championship game between Fenerbaçe (on the asian side) and Galatasaray (on the european side). It's a very big rivalry - think UNC vs Duke kind of thing. Fenerbaçe ended up winning and the streets were full of screaming fans waving flags and cars honking their horns.

Then yesterday the European championship between Liverpool and Milan was held here. The liverpool fans were all out in the bars on Tuesday night when I just happened to be out. They drank a lot and then they all started singing at the top of their lungs. My friend Figen and I were sitting outside across the alley from a big group of them, and inside the place we were at they were playing traditional turkish music and there were people dancing. It was pretty funny. I can only imagine what it was like in Taksim after Liverpool won. Turkey is a long way to travel just to see a football match. Crazyness

Monday, May 16, 2005

cats in class

İstanbul, Turkey

Wow it's been a busy past four days. I haven't actually been home in two or maybe it's 3 days now. And I'm sure you're all dying to hear about what I've been doing. Thursday I visited Burçe at Boğaziçi university. She was an exchange student at UNC last semester and she lived in my dorm. She didn't actually believe me when I told her I would visit her so she said it was like being in a dream that I actually showed up. I went with her to the sailing club meeting and listened to a lecture by a turkish olympic turkish of course. There were some pictures which was very exciting. And a total of 3 cats stolled in during the lecture and it was really hard not to laugh as they walked around the front of the room. Then I went to the sailing club's spring break trip reunion dinner where they nailed a white table cloth to the wall to use as a screen to project their vast numbers of photos onto. And the food was amazing! Oh how I love turkish food.

Day the next. I visited one of Efdaluddin's caligraphy teachers who is 80 and speaks Turkish, Arabic, French, English and Farci. He seems like an absolutely amazing person. And he was giving lessons in the library of the Sulimaniye mosque complex which is absolutely beautiful. The have a courtyard and garden in the library which I think is a great idea. Later that night I went back to boğaziçi to see a show in the parking lot where they had put up a big stage. The guy singing was Kenen Doğulu and I think that he must be really famous because all the people there knew all the words to all the songs.

English is a very hard language. I think that if I hadn't been born in a place where everyone spoke english than I never would have learned it. I gave my first english lesson on Saturday. My pupil is the son of the nanny to the adorable two year old son of Aylin whose house I have been staying in for the past two nights. I helped him with his homework (How many times a week do you play football? I play football twice a week) and then asked him questions about life, school etc. When I ran out of questions I decided that it was his turn to ask me questions. I hope I was helpful. I feel like I was kind of inept and have no idea how to teach a language.

Yesterday morning I went to a big brunch held by the Sufi group that has adopted me. İt was in a building right on the bosforus that they say used to hold elephant food in ottoman times. An entire building for elephant food...but then I guess elephants eat a lot. The brunch had almost enough food to feed an elephant I would think and it was all amazing. And everyone sat around and talked and the kids ran around and then Alikan (the son of Aylin) fell asleep in his mommy's arms and was even more adorable. And she had to carry him around for an hour.

In Turkey they have an intermission during movies. I think that's possibly one the smartest things ever. The movie theaters in the US should certainly start doing that. Especially with 3 hour movies. And it would make it possible for them to sell even more drinks since people would be able to go to the bathroom halfway through. You would think as good capitalists they would have thought of that before.

Friday, May 06, 2005

adopted part II

İstanbul, Turkey

A lesson in asking females in the middle east for directions. It's a very good idea if you want to be adopted. I was walking around Boğazaçi university looking for the library and asked someone for directions. Her name is Figen. I ended up going to her dorm, the "superdorm." We had dinner in the cafeteria in the bottom. I guess it's to be expected in turkey, but the cafeteria served turkish food! I want a cafeteria like that. Although if lenoir tried I'm sure they'd botch it. Then I went up to her room and we talked for a really long time and had tea. Tea is served at any social ocasion and that seems to include hanging out in dorms. The dorm is set up in suites with four bed rooms, a bathroom, a kitchen! and a common room. And all the rooms are singles. So then we actually did go to the library about 3 hours after I set out and she even checked out books for me. It remains to be seen if I can convince myself to do some scholarly reading on housing in Istanbul.

I've also been adopted into the sufi community here. They have an organization called the Turkish Women's Organization that I'm doing volunteer work with. Today I got to sit in the front of a truck and make food deliveries to families. That truck got down some sketchy roads. Saturday I'm supposed to be doing something else but I'm not exactly sure what it is. A woman named Cemalnur (you say c like j in turkish) is the leader and teacher or hocam. Tuesday I went with her and some of her peoples to her mother's sohbet or gathering. Although I didn't really understand the reading it was still interesting to be there, and then they fed everyone amazing food. At some point I might be helping kids learn english, but I'm not sure when that's going to happen. Planning more than a day or two ahead doesn't seem to be too big here which is fine once you accept it.

My family seems to be ever extending. I have an uncle in Turkey. His name is Hasan and he's known me since I was two years old. He's known my mom since she was 27. Once upon a time he was a teacher, but for a very long time he's been selling carpets in the kapalı çarsı or covered bazaar. If you ever visit Istanbul, and are in the market for a carpet he's the best guy to go to.

There have been basketball games on TV the last few nights. It's some kind of tournament. Most of the players are turkish, but there's one I keep seeing named Jerry Holman. Definatly not turkish. And when they interview him at the end of the game they interview him in english which I find funny. It was great, he refered to his coach as hocam. It's also really funny to hear the comentator mention his name during the game because it sounds so odd in the middle of a turkish sentence. Anyways, I was way excited to get to watch some basketball.

I'd like to share that I can now legally drink in any country (saudi arabia etc excluded because no one can drink there). I spent a lot of my birthday at a school of traditional arts and was taught the basics of arabic caligraphy. It's way harder than it looks. I did have my traditional meatballs...turkish style. I went out that night with my friend Alev. And bought myself a chocolate and cherry birthday cake that I proceeded to eat in it's entirety in 3 days (it was a small cake). It was a pretty great birthday, but I'm definatly having a party when I get home :)

Saturday, April 30, 2005

puddle jumping!

İstanbul, Turkey

Today I was walking along Istiklal Cadessi (the pedestrian mall) and it started pouring. Really pouring. Most sensible people ducked into the shops but I got soaking wet and went puddle jumping. It was great! Yup that's me, 20 going on 21 um err 7.

Monday, April 25, 2005

a turkısh passover

İstanbul, Turkey

Happy passover everyone! Not that most people in Turkey know about passover. They don't even publısh locatıons of jewish buildıngs on the internet because of securıty reasons. But I found out about a seder about an hour before it started so I got in a taksi leavıng my lovely roommate Gamze very confused about where I was goıng. Turkısh seders are a little bit different. The charoset is made wıth dates and it's very sweet and yummy. There is no matzoh ball soup :( There dıdn't seem to be any horseradish, but that's not so bad in terms of eating. The food was really really good though. At my table there were two turkish couples, an amerıcan couple, and an israeli couple that were orıgınally from yugoslavıa and spoke ladino (very sımılar to spanish). So the dınner conversatıon was ın hebrew, turkish, english, spanish and even some yiddısh.

İstanbul ıs just as beautiful as I remembered, although it's a bit hillier than I remembered. I'm stayıng in a flat in cihangir near taxim which is a great location. The flat is very nice and has a kıtchen and two cats named marma and patlican (eggplant). Gamze, my landlady/roommate/person that worries about me, is very nice and speaks english whıch is really nice. I went out with her on Friday nıght to a bar that her frıend owns and we danced and danced. And then we went over to the asian to vısıt some of her frıends where I fell asleep on the floor. Where else could you start your night in europe and end it in asia?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Alexandria, Egypt

I think I've been adopted. I was walking down the ocean walk when I first got here and didn't know if I was walking toward the center of town or not. So I asked two women for directions. They told me to keep walking walking walking and I thought that was the end of it. But a little later they walked up behind me and started talking to me. They were very concerned that I was by myself, and Ihem, the one that spoke english gave me her phone number and told me to call if I needed anything. They went off to their car. Then, I was still walking and they drove past having decided that they were going to give me a ride. I had a hard time convincing them to let me out at the train station. Ihem made me promise to call her when I got back to the hotel.

That was two days ago. The yesterday she and her neighbor picked me up at my hotel and took me on a driving tour so I could see the fishing boats and the palace and aquarium. Then they took me to the mall. It's what they thought that I needed to see in alexandria. We had tea and cake in a very starbucks like place, and then went to the mosque in the mall because it was time for them to pray. The mcdonalds sign had the big yellow M and then the name was in arabic. The also took me to buy my bus ticket and then bought me dinner before dropping me off. Her son translating for her on the phone told me that she thinks of me as her daughter.

In other news, Alexandria is beautiful! The whole city is really narrow and follows the water. I found a really good falafel place called Muhammed Ahmed, and I've been there every day. I tried to go to the library of Alexandria (they built a new one) but it was closed. It's a crazy modern looking building, but it's supposed to be amazing.

I've been kind of slack. Since I last posted I've also been to Aswan (the most southern point of the roman empire) and Luxor. They were both hot and full of hasseling guys. So I wouldn't reccomend them if you're a woman traveling alone. However, in a group in the winter I think they could be good places to visit especially if you have enough money to take a cruse on the nile. I did see the amazing temple of karnak where you can get lost in a stone papirus forest and the valley of the kings.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Looking out on the Nile

Cairo, Egypt

It really has been like jumping off a cliff. When I walk around in areas that aren't tourist areas I feel like everyone is staring at me. When I go to tourist areas all the guys have to make comments and hassle me. I've learned how to just walk past them. I had my first offer of marriage yesterday. The guy told me that he would give me all his postcards if I married him. I told him no. (as a side note, why would I have done with a huge number of postcards?) I have decided that I need a husband to tell them about. So I've decided that the wonderful Collin Lee will be my husband. We have two children. The first is two years old and named Lena (actually Sahar's cousin's adorable daughter). The second is six months old and named Julia (actually the daughter of someone from my old lab). All I need now is a ring :)

Bathroom procedure in Egypt
No toilet paper can be flushed at all. Instead it goes into a trash can beside the toilet. How to take a shower. Fill the bucket with water. Take everything out of the bathroom. Use the pitcher to pour it over your head when you need to rinse. When finished wipe the water off the floor and return things to the bathroom. This is also the most water efficient way ever to take a shower.

However, in spite of the hassle Cairo is amazing. I went to the pyramids yesterday. I don't actually believe I've seen them. The insides of the pyramids aren’t that impressive, but they are way humid. Which is pretty disturbing when you realize that all that water is from the sweat of all the people that visit. I also spent two days in the museum and I still haven't managed to see everything. They have mummies of the pharos (very creepy) and all the stuff from king tut's tomb including his death mask. My favorite thing though was this necklace made of carved blue beads that was beautiful and 5,000 years old!!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Paris Marathon

Paris, France

So as I get farther into this adventure the keyboards keep getting weirder and weirder. Anne just left me to go back to geneva, and I'm hanging out still. At 6:30 tomorrow morning I'm getting on a plane to go to Cairo...and I thought going to Italy was like jumping off a cliff. And by the time I get there I will have had less than 12 hours of sleep in 3 nights

The Paris Marathon (no running involved)
I had the ticket time wrong, so we got to the station at 6:45, for a 7:51 train. I think I slept most of the train ride. Then we figured out the metro system and got to our hotel only to find out that the web site is crap and they had overbooked. At least they reserved us a room in another hotel. First stop...the eifel tower. We couldn't go all the way up because it was overcrowded, but we did get to the second floor which was high enough for me. Next the arch de triumph where they were having some kind of parade thing. It's way hard to find the tunnel over to the arch instead of ending up back in the metro. We went to ile st. loius and walked around and had yummy french crepes and galletes. There was a funny mix up when seperate checks became green salad. It was a very good green salad though.

We went to notre dame and it was still open which was odd and there were lots of candles light and a picture of the pope, and there was some kind of mass going on. It's a lot nicer and it feels more like a religious spiritual place with a ceremony going on instead of hoards of tourists shoving. Take a deep breath before continuing the marathon. Then hike up to the top of momortre and get harrased by scary guys and go to mass at sacre cour. They said the pope's name a whole bunch of times and kept talking about his message. And so it turns out I went to mass on the day of the pope's death (in case you weren't sure, I am not catholic).

But it's not over yet. Today we got up way early and went to the louvre and had the best pain au chocolat I've ever had. Since it's the first sunday of the month the louvre was free. We saw the mona lisa which has amazing eyes. It makes me so mad, almost everyone looking at it felt like they needed to take a picture, and they couldn't even turn off the flashes on their cameras. Buy a're damaging the art and the picture won't be great anyways. Turns out there's more to the louvre than the mona lisa (shock). We saw a lot (this is marathon) including stuff by rafiel, michelangelo, el greco, rembrant umm I forget. Oh yeah, and hamarabi's code which is so so cool. It brings me back to Gilgamesh and the english class of Ms. Brooks.

Anyways, now Anne is on the train and I am in the internet cafe. I wonder what the keyboards in egypt will be like.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Happy Easter!

Florence, Italy

Florence is a very exciting place for many reasons, not the least of which is that it's my middle name. The train on the way here from Venice was insane. I guess that everyone wanted to travel to get home or to get somewhere else for the easter holiday but the train was jammed. There are compartments that are supposed to fit 6 people...well, we had 9 in ours, and the hall way was so full that you couldn't even walk through it.

It's been a very arty weekend. I'm here with Anne (yay!) and yesterday we stood in line for three and a half hours to get into the Uffize museam. It has the most famous collection of any museam in Florence. It has stuff by all the ninja turtles that painted (michelangelo, rafael and leonardo) as well as lots of other famous italian artists like Fra Angelico and Boticelli. My favorite paintings where the birth of venus and the allegory of spring, both by botecelli. You see pictures of them in books and they don't look like anything special, but when you see them up close, they are incredible. I think it's a combination of they're size (big) and the fact that someone painted them 500 years ago, and the fact that they're actually real. I don't think I've ever been that impressed with a painting before.

Today the art continued, and we waited (only an hour and a half this time) to get into the academia. That's where THE david is. The one that michelangelo sculpted. In the hall leading up to him are 4 of michelangelo's unfinished sculptures. Because they're unfinished you can kind of see how he was making them which is really cool. And THE david is amazing! That's one good looking guy (yes I know he's 5 meters tall and made of marble). His hands are a bit too big I think though.

The coolest thing in florence is San Marie del Fiore which is the big cathedral. The outside of the cathedral is decorated in white and pink and green marble (not the colors I would have picked) but it's amazing looking nonetheless. And on this cathedral is the dome designed by brunalleschi, which happens to be the biggest masonry dome in the world. I read a book about it over christmas break. He made the whole thing without any wooden centering, and to get the 2 ton blocks of marble up to the top he invented some completely new machines like an ox hoist. It's actually two domes, the inner and outer shell. And I'm going to climb it tomorrow! I get to climb in between the domes and see how it was actually made! I'm really exicted if you can't tell. Anyways, we went to easter mass in the cathedral this morning which was all in italian. We missed the fireworks for the festival of the exploding cart though because daylight savings time started this morning.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Venice, Italy

I'm sick. I think I might have the flu. I hate being sick! I've been drinking orange juice out of a juice box (the 1L size). On the bright side the guy at the farmacia gave me some drugs to take which seems to be helping some.

I'm staying in Foresteria Valdese which is a hostel that's connected with some church. It's a really old building right on a canal and the room that I stayed in last night had a fresco on the ceiling. Well, as it's such a small world I met this group of people staying in my hostel from Raleigh who work at the cheese cake factory. They had all decided that they needed a trip to italy. So I kind of joined their group and hung out with them all of yesterday. We went to murano which is the island that the glass blowers got put on after they started too many fires in venice. There was a guy doing a demonstration, and he made it look so incredibly easy. But it takes 15 years working under someone before one becomes a master glass blower.

Venice is an amazing city! There are no cars at all, or even bicycles in the city. The streets are all narrow and it's really easy to get lost. And the public transportation is all boats! I got a pass for all the boats for 3 days, so I've done a lot of riding around on them. They only go around the island or down the grand canal though which is kind of dissapointing. And I did go on a ride in a gondola (across the grand canal which took about 2 minutes but I did ride in one). We also fed the pigeons in San Marco. They're so tame that they will jump up on your hand and eat out of it. Such a hard life they lead.

Last night I saw the most amazing street performer ever. It was a guy playing yesterday on the water glasses! And then he moved on to classical stuff. It was the coolest thing ever to watch. I don't think they were actually filled with water, I think it was something clear and solid to make for easy transportation. But it was still really amazing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Warm and Sunny

Rome, Italy

I felt a bit like I was hurling myself off a cliff as the plane landed in Rome. Because in case you didn't know, I don't speak Italian. Not even a little bit. So after landing, getting a bus, a train, the metro walking a very long way, and taking a bus I got to my "hostel" also known as a camping village way the heck outside the center of town. The map they showed me lied. However, since because it's winter it's half off. I have this little bungalow thing, number 92. And it's just me, no company, although there are 2 empty beds.

Yesterday was one of those bad days. I guess it's one of the first bad days I've had. The city seemed dead (maybe because it was sunday), I couldn't find a sim card, I couldn't talk to anyone...and the metro closed way early for a little while I was stuck. I did end up in a church at the right time though and I heard this random opera/organ concert

Today was much better though. It's warm (compared to the UK) and sunny! There were these two women speaking in english on the metro, so I talked to them. And after they discovered I had no guide book and didn't speak Italian, one woman handed me a phrase telling me that she had two. Then, in front of the coliseam, this guy who was trying to get me to take a tour an I started talking, and he started telling me where to go, and then circled everything he thought I needed to see in the city on my map for me. He's been traveling for over 4 years. He even told me I could get a job with his boss and start tomorrow if I wanted. I saw the circus's crazy walking where you know there were chariot racers driving a couple thousand years ago. The neighborhood on the other side of the river, Trastevere, is really amazing. It has narrow coblestone streets and lots of old churches and piazzas and lots of people walking around! Not that I could talk to most of them, but there were still people. And can I just say the Italians really know how to make gelato (ice cream).

Saturday, March 12, 2005

My Theater Addiction

London, England

I realized today that I've been traveling for a month...exactly. That's pretty crazy. It seems like I can't possibly have been gone that long, and yet when I think back to oxford that seems worlds away. Anyways, I've been on a big theater kick. Not like that's much different than normal or anything. Tuesday I went to see the producers. It was brilliant and so so funny. The costumes were great, especially the chorus girl that was wearing a big sasage on her head. He (mel brooks) managed to make fun of everyone possible. It was disturbing though that as I walked out I was humming one of the songs and then I realized it was "springtime for hitler."

Wednesday I decided to have an upper crust brittish experience and had tea (the meal) in Kensington gardens in the orangery. It was built for Queen Victoria in the mid 1700s and it's all white on the inside with ornate ceiling trim and big windows. The gardens were really nice, although I imagine they'd be even nicer in spring when it's warm. There were a lot of dogs out running their owners though. So back to tea. There was of course tea, in a little pot with a tea cup and a little pitcher of cream. Then the food part...a cream cheese and cucumber sandwich on white bread with no crust, a scone with clotted cream and jam, and orange cake with frosting. It was all very cute, and yummy.

Thursday I returned to the theater because I can't stay away. I even got up way early to wait in line for tickets. I went on a tour of the Royal National Theatre which is an amazing space!! They have 3 theaters, and the mid size one has 800 lights!! The stages also have side and rear stages so they can have 3 sets on wagons, and theoretically they can do 3 different shows in a day. They also have a huge paint workshop, set construction area, and props workshop. You have to have at least 5 years of professional theater experience before they'll even consider you for a position. Later that evening I went back to see His Dark Materials: Part I based on the phillip pulman novels. It was absolutely amazing! They had puppets for the daemons and the people operating them wore all black. The set was amazing. It's a circular stage and the outside ring rotates, and the inner part rotates, and then the two halves go up and down (it's called a drum revolve). Oh it was so cool.

I also wandered around brixton which is the afro carribean neighborhood. They have this big market with butchers with whole chickens including the head, and whole sheep hanging from the ceiling, and fish mongers, and people selling vegetables some of which I had never seen. The butchers kept trying to hit on me which was a little dodgy (good brittish word). And I think I was the only white person in the market. I got food from this little stand and I was standing inside (there were no chairs) eating it as the guys working there were watching a football (soccer) game. And when a goal was stored guys than I thought should fit came out of the dish washing alcove, and more came in off the street and they started yelling and jumping around and getting all excited. It was pretty funny. The're really into their football here. Wow this is long. I'm going to stop now.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I love to walk

London, England

I walked around for almost 5 hours straight today. I went all the way down charging cross road (great name) and to leicester square and covent garden and soho and fleet street and other places. It's great, since it's england there's a twinnings store just full of different kinds of tea. There was also an entire store devoted to peter rabbit. I visited scenes from at least two musicals, My Fair Lady and Sweeny Todd. And there is a hair cutting place on Fleet Street, but it's not a barber and it looks like it's much cleaner. It seems as though most of what I do in London is walk. Oh, and yesterday I saw the Tate Modern, which is brilliant. I'm not sure I understood a lot of what I saw though.

So this was a few days ago, but it's so crazy that I have to write about it. Mattheaus (my random roommate) wanted to go dancing I guess it was Friday night so I went with him. And we were standing in this crazy long line in the cold waiting to get in and who should walk by but Jennine Heiser!! I used to be on the farm swim team with her back in the day. It was absolutely crazy! She was going to the same club that we were going to. It really is a small world.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Random roommate

London, England

Lesson 1 - find a hostel and get a room in it before you show up in a city at 6pm

Rachel has even showed me how to do it online. Oh well. So I got to London and followed Anna's directions to the hostel that she had stayed in, Ashlee House. However they were out of rooms. So they sent me to another hostel. However, me being one of those people with a very bad sense of direction I couldn't find it and went back for help. As I was trying to look at my bad map the guy in front of me that also couldn't get a room walked up. So we asked for directions and tried again. Either we both have a bad sense of directions, or the directions were bad, and after asking for help again we still couldn't find it. But we did walk past this inexpensive hotel. And so I slept with (you dirty minded people, in the same room as, not in the same bed with) this random guy. He's german, but his family is from the syrian turkish boarder, and he also speaks this language that might be aramaic, but I'm not sure. His name means mathew. He's very nice but he snored.

I think I've fallen in love...with camden town. It's the coolest place ever!! It's where all the punks and hippi people hang out. There are all these crazy stores with great clothes and jewlery and other random stuff. And they also have really cheap indian, chinese, vegetarian, etc. food. I also went on the london eye which is like a huge ferris wheel, but you stand in these little capsules that have clear sides and ceilings. It goes way high and the view is good. It was a little nerve wracking when I thought about how high up I was, so I tried not to think about it. I got a day pass for the underground and the busses, so I've also spent a lot of the day just riding the busses around and looking out the window. Can I say again how much I like the top level of double decker busses? Well, I said it anyways

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Findhorn, Scotland

I'm now at Findhorn visiting my Anna. It's great to see her. Findhorn is a really cool place. It started out as a spiritual community in the 60s, but in they've also gotten interested in sustainability and other environmental stuff. As far as I know everyone in the foundation does some kind of work for it. So you can work in a garden or a kitchen or in maintanance or something else. The work is 3 a day, and Anna works two days a week. I'm here as a working guest which means that I get to work every day. They told me I could either work in the kitchen or the garden and since it's winter I decided to work in the kitchen. They start all their work shifts by tuning in and introducing themselves and focusing I guess. I got to chop lots and lots of onions, carrots and broccoli. I also got to use this cool pealing machine that peeled the carrots. They have a tea break in the middle of the work shift, and everything just stops for twenty minutes.

This morning I was wandering around and went into the weaver's building. I made a friend there who is short and has black hair and decided that I was okay after jumping up on my and licking my face. She told me that she wanted to go for a walk, and which was fine by me since I had planned on walking anyways. We walked up through the woods, past the wind mill and over the dunes to the beach. Findhorn is on a bay of what I guess is the north sea. Yafa went into the water, and looked at me, but I told her it was too cold and I wasn't going in. In case you hadn't guessed Yafa, my friend, is of the canine variety. It was very exciting to meet her since I haven't walked a dog in a very long time.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

In search of water

Edinburgh and other places, Scotland

There has been sucess in downloading my pictures and putting a few online! Yay!

Today and yesterday have been full of driving around Scotland. I've discovered that Rich really likes to drive and I like to sit and look out the window, so it works quite well. The coolest thing we saw yesterday was the Falkirk wheel. It's kind of hard to see in the picture but there's a gondola on the top and one on the bottom. They both have tons of water and a boat can sail into one either at the top or bottom and because of Archimedes and his principle the weight will stay the same as long as the water level is the same in both gondolas. So then the wheel turns and the boat can go to the other part of the cannal. That means they don't have to use locks.

Today things got even weirder with the electric brae. It's this hill and balls and cars roll up hill on it!! Or that's how it looks. In reality it's an optical illusion and it's actually going down hill. My eyes still don't believe that. We also drove around in the dark, through construction sites to get close to loch lomond. I think we took the low road.

I made an apple pie last night. It was a pretty funny experience. I wanted to make a pumpkin pie, however they don't really have pumpkins over here. In fact for a long time they carved turnips (they have big turnips) for halloween. So I decided I could make an apple pie. And then I couldn't find a pie pan so I used a cake pan. But the funniest thing was having to convert all of the measurements into metric, because there are no cups or tablespoons over here. It really mae me feel like I was far away from home. It worked out okay though. I've been told it was bloody good.

Falkirk wheel Posted by Hello

Margaret's house Posted by Hello

Christ Church College hall...can you imagine that being your dining hall? Posted by Hello

Wallace monument (think Braveheart) Posted by Hello

Edinburgh Castle Posted by Hello

Friday, February 25, 2005

Trousers not pants

Edinburgh, Scotland

So it's been snowing, but I had no idea that it was actually serious snow. So yesterday I took the bus across the city to go walking in the hills. When I left it was sunny and crisp, but by the time I got there it was snowing again. There was also a foot of snow in the hills. It was more of a trudge than a walk, but the view was still really good once I got up to the top. There were also a bunch of kids sledding, and so after lying under the trees and looking up at the branches I gathered my courage and asked a mom if I could use the trash bag she was holding. The best way to sled in a trash bag she told me is to step into it and then sit down and away you go. On the bus ride home I thought I might never be warm again.

Last night I went to the folk club to hear this band named Flook. They were amazing, absolutely brilliant!!!! You should all find their music and listen to it. Their drummer played this one traditional drum that's held vertically. He could get maybe 20 different sounds out of that one drum.

After mixing up trousers and pants in conversation several times since Joy warned me about the difference I'm finally starting to get it right. In fact, I had to go buy some trousers today because I accidental brought a pair that was holey. The new trousers are purple and corduroy. I don't know why you all needed to know about my trousers, but oh well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Edinburgh, Scotland

The weather here is crazy. One minute it's snowing and five minutes later it's sunny. None of the snow is sticking, but it's really pretty. And drivers here don't freak out when they see it. I'm staying in a flat with this guy Rich who is a friend of Margaret and Peter. It's very nice and I have a very pink room.

Edinburgh has a castle! So today I went to see it. It's way up on castle rock and it's a bit of a walk to get up there. But from up there the view of the city is really great. The castle has been around for about 700 years, and it has a very colorful history including numberous seiges. It's also where Mary Queen of Scotts was born. There's a chapel to St. Margaret which they almost knocked down numberous times to renovate, but fortunatly they never did. The castle is also home to the Scottish Honors which include the crown, sword, sceptor, and rock. The rock was used in the corrination of the first kings about a thousand years ago before they had a crown or anything. Then England stole it and kept it under their corrination chair for many years. The scotts only got it back about 50 years ago. It's a great castle!

I also visited the camera obscura. Good view can be had from up there too. In the upper most room is a white dish and there are lenses and a mirror in the ceiling. When you turn out the lights you can see a view of Edinburgh on the plate. And it's a hundred and fifty years old. You can also rotate the mirror to see different parts of the city. You can see people walking around and cars driving by, it's like spying on them. And if you get a white piece of paper, you can lift the people up off the ground and "throw" them. Those poor people walking around down below.

The street that goes from the castle to the Queen's palace is a mile long and is called the Royal Mile. The catch is that it's actually a mile and an eighth, or a scotish mile. It's a nice walk though with lots of stores selling warm looking sweaters and kilts. I was actually almost warm today, and was wearing almost everything I had and some clothes that are borrowed.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Cambridge, England

I arrived in Cambridge yesterday after a bus ride that stopped in every shopping center between Oxford and Cambridge to pick people up and let them off. Rachel met me at the bus station, and walked me to her house which is um way the heck out of town. There are 11 people living there, but they have a real kitchen. The house is owned by her college which is Claire hall but she has a department that has people from lots of's all very confusing. Anyways we went to a public lecture on the orgin of conflict, and the guy giving the lecture had this idea that the only way to gain prestige in a society was through violence and conflict. Oh, and there was also Troy bashing. Afterward I went to the pub with Rachel and her fellow grad students and there was much discussion on his idea. And on many other ideas. They give you crisps (chips) when you drink. Very smart these brits. It was a very rocous (not really and I can't spell) evening with the grad students.

Rachel's floor is very comfy. I got up and walked back from way the heck out of town into the town and wandered about. It's something that I seem to be getting very good at. Kings college is beautiful. I can't really find words to describe it. And the chapel is amazing. There was an orchestra, probobly the college orchestra rehersing when I went in. I understand now why Duke needed a chapel, since every college at Oxford and Cambridge have chapels. It makes Duke's seem less impressive.

I have a phone number. It's very exciting. If you would like it you should email me and I will gladly give it to you. Off to think of something exciting to do tonight.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Blenheim Palace

Woodstock, England

As the title may suggest I visited Blenheim Palace today which is located next to the town of Woodstock. John Churchill was made Duke of Marlborough by defeating Napoleon and the french at the battle of Blenheim. That's how the english know it at least. It was fought on the Danube and I think they might have a different name for it there. Anyways he was given by the crown the land and money to build this palace. One cool thing is that this John had no surviving male heirs, so there was a special act of parliment passed so his daughter could inherit the title. And it is an amazing palace. It has lots of paintings of the dukes (they're now on their 11th) and tapistries and highly decorated ceilings and fancy furnature. All the things a good palace ought to have. It also has an exhibit on Winston Churchill, because he was born there. He was not destined to be a duke though because his father was the second son. But he was born there and I stood in his birth room. That makes two rooms famous men were born in three days.

The palace also has magnificient grounds. I did one of their walks which went past a temple to diana and a waterfall. Since that wasn't enough I went on another past the front of the palace. They have a flock of sheep grazing out on the grassy lawn of the palace...very interesting. There's also a secret garden with a sign pointing to it. Not so secret anymore, but lovely all the same.

Peter (margaret's special person) took Margaret and her mother and me to this lovely resteraunt called the boot for dinner. It has boots or shoes from lots of famous brits on the wall. I didn't know who any of them were though which was sad. It was the same way in the palace. An eight or so year old girl was looking at the paintings and identifying the historic people in them, and I had no idea who they were. Anyways dinner was really good. For dessert I had sticky banana pudding (cake) with hot fudge sauce which they tell me is typically brittish. I'm going to have to learn how to make it for all of you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Stratford Upon Avon, England

I have now made the pilgramage to Shakespeare's birthplace. I've even stood in the room where he was born. As have many other important people, including Thomas Jefferson and many others whose names escape me. They were important though. The house is nice. There was a funny story about a Mrs. Hornsby who for a while rented the place and was the caretaker. When they increased her rent she had to leave, so she took all the artifacts with her. Then there was a large rivalry between her and the new caretaker.

I also got to see Two Gentlemen of Verona which was put on by the Royal Shakespeare company. They were sold out of all the regular tickets by the time I got there, so I got a ticket for standing. I feel as though that's a very historically appropriate way for a poor college student to watch a Shakespeare play even though my standing spot was on the first balconywhich is not historically accurate. They did an amazing job!! The lighting was fabulous and the costumes were brilliant. Oh yeah, and the acting was also amazing.

On the return journey (by train) to Eynsham I had a lovely conversation with an older american gentleman (whose very quit son was with him) and a brittish woman. Two trains and platform waits later we had managed a very thorough discussion of american politics and of finding one's spirituallity. The American, who was from Iowa was very liberal and was one of those people that inspires you with hope for the rest of america. We were trying to explain to the Brittish woman possible reasons for the way americans (or at least the ones that voted for bush) act the way they do. She thinks that the brittish do a better job of running their country because they're more cynical. The amazing people you meet late at night at train stations.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day

Eynshem and Oxford, England

Well, I'm here. Happy Valentine's Day to one and all. Oxford is a beautiful city. Oxford university is not like UNC though. There are lots, maybe 15 different colleges and they are all separate. However, there is one building for awarding degrees. I was disappointed to find out there isn't really a college called Jordan college, but the His Dark Materials books are featured prominently in all the bookstores. The first one is called the Northern Lights though. Speaking of books they have the most amazing book store. It's called Blackwell's and it is four floors. They have academic books, used books, fiction, kids books, everything you could possibly think of. There are also 2 other book stores on the street. These people are serious about their books.

I was definitely sure I was in a different country when I went with Margaret (my mom's friend that I'm staying with) and her mother to a pub for lunch. We had the wedding breakfast, or two eggs and chips, which is two fried eggs served over french fries. In addition there was a half a Guinness (my first legal alcohol) and tomato juice with wostesher sauce...the bitter and the salty. They put this brown sauce on their chips, it reminds me of barbecue sauce only not quite. I've also had some of the most amazing Indian food ever. Of course it wasn't better than Vimala's, but outside of that it was the best.

I'm staying in what used to be an old church. But they ran out of congregation and now it's a house. They say there's a picture of how it used to look somewhere, but I haven't seen it yet. It's in Eynshem which is a small village outside Oxford. There's a bus that goes into Oxford. My first night here I had a funny conversation with two drunk brittish guys on the bus. They weren't impressed with football (of the american variety). They insisted that rugby was a real man's game. They were also shocked that I didn't watch wrestling, as I was from america and all.

Monday, January 03, 2005

I'm using Anna's idea and using this loverly blog to write about my walkabout. I have to finish the set for Into the Woods before I leave though, so I'm off to make a bean stalk.